This is it. This is the last one (split into two parts).
Buckle up, friends. We have about forty minutes of screen time to cover and miles to go before we sleep.
Taking the baton from Part One…
We are watching Queen D walk away after just having arrested Tyrion Lannister for treason.
Arya has just been dumbed down with her “I know a killer” line enough to cast true doubt on her assertion that Sansa is the smortest person she ever did meet.
And now we stagger along, singing our song, side by side.
We’re on Jon and Arya, shot over their backs as they watch Daenerys mad queen off to somewhere…aaaaaaaand then we cut to Jon arriving elsewhere.
In my house, I’m rubbing my temples. If you remember, we were first on Tyrion, who passed Jon, who, in turn, arrived at Grey Worm and then walked past him only to re-arrive at Grey Worm, have Tyrion walk away from Jon and Grey Worm, only to cut to Jon arriving at Tyrion’s cell.
There is no Grey Worm there, at Tyrion’s larder cell, but the Unsullied are standing guard. They say nothing, and yet, I believe they have tongues, unlike Urine’s crew. They could talk about anything.
They could say “I love Billie Eilish and I don’t care who knows.”
They could say “Ow my knees are so sore from standing around at attention in one spot for hours, how about you guys?”
They could say anything, but they don’t.
In fact, the most human evaluation of the whole campaign was something I pulled off the internal Unsullied message boards, written by an Unsullied who renamed himself from his slave name of ‘Beaver Shit’ to ‘Joaquin’. This was a message posted in the Unsullied NON-OFFICER board.
You know gents, when I look back at the original day where we slew the masters I’m beginning to feel like we may have been emotionally manipulated a little bit. And as I get older I have a growing sense that major life choices really merit some detailed consideration.
I have a lot of time to think, as we all do since we’re just sort of human statues most of the time, and perhaps the very act of being freed gave us the sort of implied understanding that we were embarking on a mission of mercy, with a prime directive of finding likewise entangled or enslaved peoples and helping Mhysa break the proverbial chains.
In short: we were the good guys.
But being the good guys isn’t easy. I lost a lot of friends across the sea to random attacks from Sons of the Harpy. Like, one of my friends, Barn Dog, was just standing there, as we do, in front of a tattoo parlor and someone sticks a knife in his kidney. I watched him die and I couldn’t help but feel that it was a terrible, empty death. This was a guy who beat his greatest fear of weevils eating his face by overcoming weevils actually eating his face. And for what? What did he endure that misery for? To die ass-up in the mud in front of a place where Post Malone has landlubbed Ironborns with Hep C carve barbed wire into his face? Is that what all Barn Dog’s suffering and tenacity was for? (R.I.P. Barn Dog)
It was truly awful. It made me want to hang up my skates.
But I rallied, you know? I did a little juice cleanse and brushed up on some somatics training and I was set to re-commit myself to this thing, this shared goal of a ‘better world’. But I have to be honest. I don’t see it, my dudes. Do you? I mean, I loathe the fact that I’m the Michael J. Fox character in ‘Casualties of War’ but I feel that I’m bound to ask “WHAT’RE WE DOIN’ HERE, SARGE?”
Right? Because where is this better world that we’re theoretically pursuing?
I’m a people pleaser. Always have been. Even before I was Beaver Shit. So the Unsullied works for me because you tell me you need me over there? You got it! I hop to. You tell me to cross the Narrow Sea? By all means! I’m so docile these days that it’s like you seriously couldn’t tell that I’m not a slave. So sure, I cross the narrow sea. It’s pretty choppy. I had to share a bed with a horse. There was this super creepy Dothraki screamer on my boat who would throw me shit eyes every time I dared to glance at his mount. It’s like “my man! I did not select this as my primary sleeping arrangement, you know? I do not view your steed as a potential paramour so maybe relax a little? Jesus.”
Once we land in Dragonstone, I pull the short straw and I draw second shift duty on the long walkway from the beach. That’s the midnight to ten am shift. So my circadian rhythms are all shot to hell. I’m standing perfectly still out there in any weather, like we do. (Not even gonna link to that whole thread about how we should ask for ponchos again. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we forget about PonchoGate the better. LOL :):):P:P) But I’m out there on that walkway getting pissed on by the ocean spray, dragons doing flybys and making me want to yell NEGATIVE GHOSTRIDER THE PATTERN IS FULL! But we can’t move. We can’t look up. You know how hard it is to have a bunch of dragons flying over you and not look up? It’s crazy! And when there are no dragons I’m listening for every little thing because I’m like WE ARE NOT GOING TO LOSE DRAGONSTONE ON MY WATCH. Right?
And guess how many pirates, thieves, invaders, guests, visitors, or travelling salespeople I turned away? Zero. Four months on an elevated high line and I get no action except for a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their tenacity is crazy. It was like an 85 degree day and they’re in ties. I wanted to say, “Charlie, if I had a dee-diddle-dingy-dong in my trousers the LAST thing I’d be doing is tucking it behind a tie.” Amirite? I know you boys get me.
But the point is, months of standing. For nothing. It’s not very fulfilling and I’m like “I chose this?” When we got grabbed as kids we came from families that did all sorts of things. Cooks, sailors, farmers, sheep shearers, carpenters, sculptors. And then they torture us and make us all soldiers. We had no choice.
And the second we did have a choice, we somehow forgot all that and just decided to be soldiers? How’s that work again? I mean, how many of us would have chosen this if Mhysa said “take the weekend to sleep on it and if you want to spend the rest of your life fighting, then come back Monday.”
How many would have actually come back? You don’t have to answer me on the message boards, because I know that’s really daunting for most of you. But ask yourself in your mind and answer yourself with the truth.
But okay, it’s what we agreed to and it’s better than pouring concrete so I soldier on and before we know it, we’re on a new adventure. I was giddy the day we departed for The North. I was like OOOOH IT SOUNDS SO WILD AND IDYLLIC.
Then we get there and it’s like the sixties never happened. I got spat on by the very first old lady I walked by. I actually broke protocol I’m ashamed to say and I smiled and said “Hey how’s it going” in the common tongue.
I know! I’m such an Elvis. And I think this old lady is sort of figuring out what to say because her mouth is working in a circle and I’m standing there with a goofy smile on my face and before I know it this crone hocks up a date sized phlegm-ball and Prana‑Bindus it into my eye. I never even saw it coming. And of course the guys in my rank are dying with laughter until they all get spit on too. All those fuckers: Slime Toad, Green Cheese, Stink Badger. All of them. They all got spat on.
It’s like “holy shit people. Did we really sign up for this?”
And the answer that I know all the stiffs on these boards will give me is YES, WHEN WE ALL AGREED TO FIGHT WE SIGNED UP FOR WHATEVER but was this type of interaction ever dreamed of? That we’d leave Essos? Where was that in my contract? And not for nothing, but usually people get combat pay or like, regular pay. That’s part of the deal. I know so many of us were never anything but slaves, but free men get paid, y’all! Have any of you dudes gotten a paycheck yet? I haven’t seen a red cent since I stuck my spear in a master who looked like he came out of a Paul Thomas Anderson movie about leisure suits. Not a penny.
But whatever. I’m sure The Breaker of Chains is keeping some form of accounting ledger so we’ll all eventually be compensated for our labor. (She is, right? Right???)
Anyway, we get to the racist North and then we have to fight corpses. My dudes, I’m telling you, if you asked me a year ago what would be the worst case scenario it wouldn’t have even begun to approach living in a frozen icewater taiga and fighting dead people. That wouldn’t have ever occured to me. Not in my wildest dreams. But fight them we did, right? God I’ll never forget being in formation and backing slowly up as the dead were literally eating the dudes in front of me, (R.I.P. Swill Bucket and Piss Farmer) but I’m still staying in lockstep like we do, you know? And as I’m backing up, with like millions of zombies coming to kill me, I realize that they LIT THE FUCKING TRENCH BEHIND US.
YOU GUYS REMEMBER THAT SHIT???
It’s like: seriously? Outside of being a pretty glaring OSHA violation, it’s like the worst moment of a relationship where you realize “OH SHIT, I’M EXPENDABLE.” It’s a 100% confirmation that we’re more into Mhysa than she is into us. It made me think of her always calling The Bloodriders her “first family.” What does that make us? Right? Anyway, it was a truly awful feeling but I didn’t really have much time to think about it because I had shambling corpses trying to bite me under the face-spade. Somehow, we beat them. I still have no idea how but I heard one of the Northerners did it with magic.
I was certain that I was going to die. Certain. And somehow I made it. You guys know the feeling. Somehow, everyone reading this made it when so many of our brothers didn’t. Holy shit, I was so relieved! But I also was like I AM NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN. Because it’s like, what is this really?
I was shook. Not gonna lie. My hands were shaking for a solid nine hours.
I was thinking: why am I even here? Because I’m a chickenshit follower and when everyone got all hyped up in Astapor I didn’t have the mental fortitude to think for myself? I could have just walked away. But I didn’t. Thank god I at least changed my name! I’m like one of what, six of us in the whole army? Everyone except Maximilian, Rodrigo, Paisley, Brooklyn, Thor and me kept their fucking SLAVE NAMES! INSIGHT MUCH? So I’m in Winterfell, literally disinfecting bite marks from zombies all over my body with peroxide and I’m excited to just sleep for three weeks and heal up. But Mhysa has other plans. She’s like WE MARCH IN THE MORNING.
I’m bruised and abraded and definitely have a mid-grade concussion and the beginnings of chronic traumatic encephalitis, and even worse, I accidentally bit through the side of my tongue during the battle and that’s so irritating because no matter what you do you can’t stop playing with it. And tongues are like cats: they follow no rules. You can try to mentally stop them from moving, but eventually, they’re going to always probe around any cut in your mouth and make it worse. Fact.
So I just wanted to HEAL. To sit and heal. But instead of finding a hammock and kicking up our dogs for a weekend, we’re all goose stepping down to King’s Landing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever marched like 1500 miles with a strained IT Band and/or a torn hammy? Like half of us, right? I was in agony. And we had to eat those shitty pre packaged oscar mayer lunchables the whole way. It’s like, if I had a dog I wouldn’t even feed him this shit. But I can’t have a dog and neither can you because no dogs is a rule. That alone, in my opinion, is reason enough to desert the army. Don’t worry — I’M NOT GOING TO, but I’ve always wanted a little Welsh Corgi to be my best pal in the whole world. But can I have one? Nope!
Finally, we make it to the capitol. Thank god. You guys remember? We were all just giving each other moral support in the ranks and carrying shields for the guys who were really bummin’ and what did we keep whispering on the march?
ONE MORE BATTLE, GUYS! ONE MORE BATTLE.
Because this is it, right? We’ve heard this is the goal since the day she broke the chains. Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, whatever they are. Take the Iron Throne, whatever that is. We win this and Mhysa is set!
And to make it much better, we get to a battle against actual, human, alive people instead of skeletons with knives who have no vocal chords but somehow manage to scream like yaks in a forest fire.
And what happens? It’s over before it starts. We rout them and it’s like, whew! IT’S OVER, Y’KNOW!
When I was stolen away from my parents, my goal wasn’t to fight every day of my life. I wanted to be one of those guys that creates distinct, memorable scents for perfumes and colognes. And when the Lannisters laid down their arms in King’s Landing? I’m like FINALLY. Because we all know the one thing Mhysa has said this whole time is that she wants to be the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Now, I have zero idea what that is and probably neither do you because, for obvious reasons, Intro to Geography wasn’t super high on the curriculum of nightmare slave camp. But whatever it is, I know that she finally got it. And I was just kind of nodding to you guys and many of us were like NO MORE GUARD DUTY! WE CAN BE FREE NOW. I look over at Feather Fart and Bladder and their eyes both say NOW MHYSA WILL REALLY LET US GO.
But then she burned every kid in the city as we watched. It was like, EXACTLY OPPOSITE of the vibe I’m looking for in my life.
I mean, one second we’re like “okay, whew! This is over.” And the next second we’re running for our lives because our leader is burning friend and foe alike. It’s like, I don’t want to say it, but pyromaniac much? I was just standing there outside King’s Landing next to a bunch of Dothraki. One of them was trying to joke and pick everyone’s spirits up, which I appreciated, but we were all in kind of a daze. I think his name was Kevin? As Dothraki go, he’s better than most. Mouth Sore, Squid Puke and Ass Chips were there with me, maybe they remember his name. Pretty sure it’s Kevin, but you guys can check me on that. But we were all just kind of in shock. Is this really who we are now? And I’m like ‘there must be a reason she’s burning the city that we don’t yet know’ y’know? Like at the plus/delta meeting after this she’s surely going to tell us that the citizens all had some form of communicable plague or something, right?
Elsewise, why burn a whole city?
So then we get to the post mortem and it’s all this sort of hyperbolic propaganda speak like “oh we liberated King’s Landing” and we’re gonna “liberate” the world. Mhysa’s eyes have gone fundamentally wild and her voice sounds like a zealot. It was always “Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.” That was the ENDGAME. Now it’s gonna be “Queen of the World?” And I’m looking side eye at a bunch of the guys around me, guys like Brown Log and Squiffy and Lesion, and it’s like WHOA HORSEY WHOA. I remember what liberation means. Once upon a time I was an actual slave. I had the collar and everything. Because of Mhysa and Mhysa alone, I was liberated. That’s why I stand at attention on wharves and highlines and airfields and in front of knitteries and bird habitats and local fishmongeries. That’s why I poke-poke-poked dead people. It didn’t do shit, but I poked the everliving bejesus out of them. It’s why I came down here to a capitol city I don’t care about, to help Mhysa get her prize.
But at what cost? All of our souls? I’m not gonna burn the world, my dudes. I’m not.
I vomited three times after the Battle of the Burns. I’m a guy who likes hacky sacking. I listen to jam bands. I have been known to dab a little patchouli on myself to cover the robostank of long marches. I’m decidedly NOT in the kid-murder game. But some of you, I know, are like “whatever Mhysa wants is what I want.” And it’s like, yes we operate better when we’re of one mind, but you can’t justify this. You can’t say killing a million women and children in a half an hour is okay and it’s business as usual. At some point you have to think ‘what if that were my kid or my mom or my sister?”
I saw some of you flinch when The Hand threw away his pin, like you wanted to get him. OOOhhhh that little prick doesn’t want to burn infants in their cribs. What an asshole! Are you guys serious?
Grey Worm, who I love and respect, has gotten so cold that he was just cutting Lannister throats as easy as you make a BLT. Slicing the throats of prisoners, my dudes. And there are like 20 Unsullied there and no one says a fucking word? No one pulls him aside and reminds him how the Masters did that to guys who never made it in boot camp? Now that’s our move? Like, at what point did you just hand over your personal responsibility? I see this all the time with some of you who are more religious. You put everything on your gods so you don’t have to think. Babies were immolated? Oh it must have been what the Lord of Light wanted! Elderly grandfathers lit on fire? Oh it’s the Will of the Seven! Do you even hear yourselves? How about instead of just passing the eternal buck you say, y’know what? I’ve been a good boy all this time. I’ve done everything you asked but if this is really, truly a voluntary army (which, come on —- is it even anymore? You think we can just walk away??) instead of a goddamn death cult then my job here is done.
That’s all I wanted to say. I love all of you like brothers. You know that. Everyone except Sphincter. I kid I kid! Sphincter my boy! What we’ve been through together makes us tighter than family. But when we’re talking about killing the world and calling it liberation, I have to pause. When we’re changing from people who free slaves to people who burn innocent people for shits and giggles and because they had the audacity to stand against us? The burning proves their rightness. The fire makes them correct to have resisted. If anything, they should have resisted more. Not that it will do any good now that we’re the only power on Planetos with nukes.
I don’t know guys. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and feel like a badass for being in an unstoppable death cult who plans to Ozzy Osbourne the world. But right now, I’m just sitting here thinking of all the babies in King’s Landing who will never play ultimate frisbee and my heart just isn’t in it anymore.
But he seems to be in the minority, because this episode featured more robotic Unsullied than any other. For example, in the next scene, where Jon goes to visit Tyrion in lockup, he’s escorted by Unsullied. He hands off Longclaw and the Unsullied he gives it to is STARING FORWARD LIKE A ROBOT. Unsullied? More like Un-DULL-ied! Hiyo!
Jon enters the larder where Tyrion is being fattened up for the kill.
UH DON WANT ET! Yells Jon. MAH QWEEN!
“What’s that?” Tyrion asks.
“Sorry” thinks Jon. “Most of my dialogue this season has been neanderthal-esqe grunting about how ‘I don’t want it’ and reaffirming my allegiance to ‘my queen’. As I look back, I feel like Brahn had a hand in this. He told Sam to tell me. That decision right there pretty much ruined Game of Thrones. I don’t even look like an Aegon. Even when people find out it’s not like they’re like OH AEGON MY MAN, YOU WANT TO ROLL OVER TO ARBY’S WITH US. Everyone still calls me Jon. I was so happy before I knew I was buggering my auntie. So happy. I can’t even tell you. She is so cool. It was amazing. And then Brahn had to go and ruin it. For what? That’s what I want to know! Why was it so important to fuck me over like that?”
NOOTHUN. Jon says.
“Well, I’m sorry to say, but I knew this would happen. All of this. Everything that’s come to pass.” Says Tyrion. “You, uh, might want to pull up a chair.”
“Suit yourself. So, you remember the planning session by that map before we beat the dead? Everyone was somber and morose? Well, I slid a chair up to Bran, who is decidedly NOT Bran, by the by, and he proceeded to tell me the tallest of tales.”
“He said that he was a Dark Wizard from the distant, distant past. That he had committed an unforgivable crime during the Time of Light and had since spent six thousand years running from the law. Every thousand years or so, he said, the Paladins Elect from that Era raise enough power to send, well basically it’s a Texas Ranger, in the form of a Night King, forward in time to attempt to ensnare him once and for all, and barring that, perform the execution that he had avoided or outrun for millenia. They know this Night King they send will be alone, but they imbue him with a few key skills. He cannot speak, which is an intentional choice to protect the integrity of the timeline continuum. But he is fire retardant, immune to star magic, moon magic and throwing stars. He is a natural blood magic user and can resurrect the dead and use them as minions. He can use telekinesis and even has some minor powers of suggestion over less gifted creatures. He also can quilt, embroider, and has a knack for patterns. He is graced with lightning fast reflexes, the ability to sense dream invasions, and has a Brett Favre arm for throwing. He can use his hands to make a rudimentary flesh marking if necessary. He can ride horses, wolves, bears, Klondikes (which are sadly extinct), elephants, ice spiders, whales, snow tigers, and dragons.”
SOONDS LAHKE A LOOD OF BOOLSHIT TO ME.
“Just listen. So every thousand years…wait, did you happen to bring any wine?” Tyrion asks.
Jon realizes that he’s a terrible prison visitor. SO STUPID! GOD HE KNEW HE SHOULD BRING SOMETHING. A CANDLE! A BAG OF CHIPS! SOMETHING. GOD. WHAT AN IDIOT, he thinks. To compensate and buy time, he pats the pockets of his man dress as if there may be a wayward bottle of pinot grigio in one of them. Then he gives up the ruse and looks at Tyrion.
UM SORREH, I FORGOT
Tyrion sighs. “You are your father’s son. Where was I?”
“Right, the dark wizard. So the dark wizard can see everything, all at once. Most of the past, just about all of the present and, well, bits and pieces of the future. He steals the body of a human, then calls out and plants dreams into the mind of other humans, summoning them to him. It helps if they’re in strife or somehow infirm, because it makes them easier to ‘impregnate’ with ideas, if you will. But he assured me he could manipulate almost anyone with enough time and effort.”
“Indeed! So that’s how he stole your brother, Bran. He analyzed every outcome and saw the whole continent as a vast game of 4D chess. He could sense the Night King Texas Ranger was growing in power and he had to figure out how to arrange key people in Westeros to protect him from the law. So he set to work, more than six hundred years ago. Making certain people fall in love, making others go mad and kill people, setting the table for what would be Robert’s Rebellion, your conception, the War of the Five Kings, The Battle of Blackwater Bay and The Battle of the Bastards and all the Stannis stuff north of the wall. All of it. Engineered by him.”
UHND YOO BUHLEEVE HEM?
“Yes. But let me explain why. He told me that I had a role to play. He said that the Night King, who’s name was Sir William Francis Percival, by the way-“
DONT YU MEAN SER?
“No I guess they didn’t do that back then. Frankly I don’t know why we do it. It’s stupid. Anyway, he said many of us would actually survive The Battle of Winterfell, a fact I almost blabbed while I was drinking with some comrades around the fire later that night while you were brooding alone in your bedchamber.”
“You had just kicked Daenerys out of your room when she was DTF. He told me that this was an important thing, and he told me several hours before it actually occurred. Had you not done that, and just decided to be happy instead of being bound by artificial rules imposed by society, you both would have lived a long happy life together and never burned King’s Landing. But he knew you were principled and rather stupid-“
“-And that you never would. He engineered that, too. For years he invaded the mind of your stepmother, planting false images of her husband going down on any number of Southern beauties. She loathed you with every fiber of her being.”
“So as much as your father, well, Ned, wanted to tell you, he was always hesitant because she was such a wild card.”
WOULDNT ET HAHVE BEN BETTUR IF SHEH KNOO I WESN’T HES SON?
“Apparently, she never would have believed it. Her mind was too gone, and she had some skeletons of her own while he was away, mostly in reaction to the false images in her mind. No, every outcome, even if he told you, ended up with Cat managing to kill you. So the dark wizard got into the heads of lots of people around Ned and suggested that he send you to the Wall. To protect you from Cat Stark.”
I DOONT KNO. THES IS A LOT TO SWALLUH.
“Let me keep going. So what happened at the Battle of Winterfell?”
WE WOON. ARYA KELLED THE NAGHT KENG.
“Exactly! Do you know why? Because he told me ahead of time! There were three possible people who could have killed the Night King on the Battlefield that day. Arya, Ser Jorah Mormont, and you.”
“Yes, you. The Three Eyed Raven, whose real name, by the way, is Dark Wizard Corialinus The Great, spent the entire battle putting obstacles in your way and in the way of Ser Jorah. Didn’t you notice that it was much more difficult for you to save the day than usual?”
“That’s because Corialinus was working against you the whole time. The battle started and he called in a huge storm to impede your air effectiveness.”
HE DID THA? I THOU ET WAS THE NAGHT KENG!
“No, it wasn’t. As soon as the Red Woman showed up to mess up his plans, he warged into a few key Dothraki and sent them to charging.”
THA’S WHY THEY DED THA! ET WAS SO STOOPUD!
“Of course it was! It was suicide! But he needed to get you and Jorah out of the battle, especially you, because you are a direct descendant of the Paladin Elect and have what they call THE GIFT OF THE SWORD. You and the Night King are actually distant relatives and there was a chance, albeit small, that he would have turned you to his team. In situations like this, the bond of family can become apparent.”
I THOUGH THERE WAS SOOMETHIN BETWEEN UHS! THE WAY HEH LOOKED AT ME AT HARDHOME! AND ON THE FIELD THA- DAY HE COULD HAVE KELLED ME A THOUSAND TIMES OVER!
“Ahhh. I didn’t know that! So he did recognize you as his relation. Interesting. Well, while you were trying to be the hero, Corialinus was warging everywhere on the battlefield. Warging into giants to make them fall in the fire so they wouldn’t kill Brienne. Warging into Drogon to make him stay on the ground too long so the zombies could board him, and force him to shake his queen to the ground where Ser Jorah would die saving her.”
WAS JORAH A PALADIN TOO?
“No, actually, believe it or not, the Mormonts are descendents of the High Kings of the Time of Light. They are the true leaders of the world. Which is why Corialinus made sure to warg into a giant and murder the last remaining heir in our age.”
“Lyanna Mormont. She was quite impressive. And she had something like the gift you have as well, except she was born with THE GIFT OF GUIDANCE, which means she’s uniquely suited to lead people and had she ever become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, it would have ushered in an unprecedented era of peace and tranquility in the world that would have lasted a thousand years.”
AH HAF TO SET DOON.
“By all means. Take a load off. There’s more.”
AN HE TOLD YOU ALL THES? BEFORE THE BATTUL?
“He did! He needed my help. I was so full of wine that he could never really get into my brain to influence me. I have so many voices in there already. Everyone who called me imp. Every whore I ever bedded. Every servant who ever said something disparaging under their breath. His voice apparently could never find purchase. And I was planning on being up on the ramparts, managing the battle. If I had, apparently, we would have never positioned our field armaments in the front of the line and according to his calculations, I’m such a brilliant tactician that our odds of outright victory would have improved by 60%!”
“I know! So he needed to confess to me and ask me to go to the crypt.”
WHY DEDNT YOU TELL HIM TO FUCK OFF?
“Because he said he’d warg into Tormund and have him rip me in half with his bare hands, and to prove that he could he warged into him for a minute and had him come at me and I could see it in his eye that he would do it.”
“I did not relish the thought of being parted in that way, so he continued. He needed me in the crypt. In exchange for my agreement, he promised to keep Ser Davos alive.”
GOOD ON YE
“I thought you’d like that. So I went to the crypt. You fought bravely, ran into your great great great great great great great great etc etc grandnephew Paladin on the battlefield but he didn’t kill you. Corialinus was sure he’d try to turn you there but he didn’t. Still, had you been the one to kill The Night King, you would have had to beat all of his lieutenants at once and kill him with his own sword: White Father.”
THAT’S A LOT.
“Yes, but he saw you do it! In several versions. You hewed through his entire cadre of Craster’s bastards and killed the Night King with White Father. Several times, apparently, in hundreds of scenarios.”
“And in every case, the feat was so otherworldly that every soldier who saw it, Unsullied and Northmen and Dothraki alike, immediately pledged themselves to you. You would go on to take back the Seven Kingdoms where you would appoint Ser Davos your hand and he would rule in your name for thirty years of peace and prosperity. Such is the power of the GIFT OF THE SWORD.”
“Which is why he warged into a dragon to stop you. And in some cases that didn’t even work because you don’t know it but you’re immune to dragonfire.”
I THOUGHT AH MIGHT BE! AH STOOD UP EN FRONT OF THA DRAGON AND AH WAS LIKE GO AHEAD BETCH! GIVE ET YER BEST SHO!
“So you knew, somehow? Huh. Well, luckily for no one, you were halted, Ser Jorah was felled, and Arya managed to kill the Night King. It was touch and go for a second at the end because although she was trained to be a Faceless Man-“
WHATS A FECELESS MAN?
“It’s the preternatural guild of assassins.”
WHA? ARYA? LEL ARRY?
“Yeah, man. God you’re sweet. You really are. Yes, your sister is Treadstone Era Jason Bourne. That’s why it’s cute when you try to keep her safe. She could probably kick your ass a thousand ways to Sunday.”
“You’re adorable. But yes, even with your GIFT OF THE SWORD she still might be able to take you. Though one never really knows.”
AH KENT BELEIVE EHT
SO DED THE WEZZARD WARG ENTO ARYA?
“Oh no! No no no no! She and you, well, all of the Starks are descendants of the Paladin Elect. You can’t be warged into. You are impervious to his interference, which is why he sometimes has to go to great lengths to have you sent in a direction he needs.”
SO HOW’D HE GET INTO BRAHN’S MIND?
“Bran, I’m sorry to say, had no Stark blood in him. He and Rickon were Tullys but were not Ned’s children. Though no one ever knew. Do you remember Yoren? From the wall? The Wandering Crow?”
YOREN? YOURE SHETTING ME!
“I wish I were. Robb, Sansa and Arya. And you from Lyanna. Those are the children with Stark blood. That part is true. I mean, you remember how Yoren looks. His whole job was wandering the various keeps to recruit Crows. Your father was gone for two years and often for long periods after that to the various Northern holds. Catelyn was, well…not always sure he’d return. And she was having these dreams where Ned was, well, you know. It nearly drove her mad. In walks this travelling salesman, who sort of resembles Ned if you have a couple glasses of beaujolais in you…”
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. DED MY FATH-
“No, Ned never knew.”
THANK FOOKIN GOD
“I mean, if you think about it, Rickon…”
DONT SEY A WERD ABOO HEM.
“I’m not saying anything about the poor lad. I was just suggesting that perhaps his, “intellect” wasn’t exactly Stark-like. Though that’s not much of a bar I suppose.”
I THENK WE SHOULD GET BACK TO THEH POINT.
“So now the dead have been felled, and-“
WHY’D THE WEZZARD LET THE PALADIN NAGHT KENG OR WHATEVER GET SO CLOSE TO HEM?
“Ah, yes, because he needed to capture his essence. This was a tactical choice. An intentional gambit. When Arya made her final move, the Night King sensed her through some vein of ancient familial knowing. He caught her, but he didn’t kill her outright. He’s as strong as a team of oxen, and could have snapped her neck like a twig. He knew she was his relative as well, but before he could turn her, she stabbed him with SOULBREAKER.”
“The magic dagger. The Killer of All. The Open End. The Blade to End all Blades. Given to her by whom?”
“Exactly! The Night King wasn’t afraid of Arya because no Paladin can ever knowingly or unknowingly harm another Paladin. The magic is unbreakable except for two cases. One: If they disarm the Paladin, the ultimate insult, and use his own sword to kill him, the magic is neutralized. And the second is if they use Soulbreaker, which is the most powerful blade ever forged. And because of that, the Night King didn’t just die. The power of the magic made him shatter, and that helped Corialinus scoop up the pieces of your broken ancestor. Outside of survival, that was his ultimate goal. This was the exact moment he had been gameplanning for for six hundred years. To line it all up perfectly, and in that moment, he got every dice roll to go his way. Even now, he applies the pieces he collected to engineer his greatest plot ever: using your gifted line to create his own army of Dark Paladins.”
NOW I MAY NEED WINE.
“See? You should have brought some for us both.”
AN WHAT ABOOT DUNNY?
“Sadly, she is just a pawn of The Lord of Light. Who isn’t actually a Lord at all but a Sorcerer living in the Shadowlands. The Red Women are his witch ambassadors he sends abroad. He also has the power to influence ideas, can merge with a foreign consciousness, can see great distances, hear uttered prayers, remotely cast flame spells and resurrect the dead, and can localize images in fire, but cannot warg. He has some considerable ability with fire magic. But I’m sad to say that our dear Daenerys has very little to do with The Paladins, Corialinus, or the Great Crime he committed.”
“The more one burns, the greater the Sorcerer’s power over them. Why do you think Melisandre was always getting Stannis to burn everybody? Sadly, Daenerys is now wholly possessed by the evil of the sorcerer. I fear that he’s been gaining more and more control over her for some time, beginning with the moment she dracarys’d the warlocks in Qarth and growing when she burned the Khals in Vaes Dothrak. He sent his high priestess, Quaithe, to shadow her when she was still a young girl and put his mark upon her. I’m afraid her demise was planned long ago.”
OH GODS THAS TERRIBUL
“I mean, you know her. I know her. One day she’s toasting Arya in Winterfell and like two days later she’s completely gone mad? It doesn’t work like that. Everyone knows that. She’s not in control of her faculties anymore. The Lord of Light is directing her to burn in his name.”
WHECH IS WHY SHE BURNED THE CETY?
“Which is why she burned the city. When the bells rang, that’s when the Sorcerer made his great effort. He put all of his will into her and had she been able to fight it, she would have ruled in peace and tranquility for fifty years and died in her bed, loved and content. And the failed effort might have killed him outright. But he won. He had enough of a toehold in her mind that he was able to get her to make the first hellfire run. And once people started to burn, the power of those sacrifices went to him. His power nearly doubled when Princess Shireen was burned by her own parents. There was actually a scenario Corialinus told me where Shireen Baratheon and Lyanna Mormont grow up and become best friends. Anyway, before King’s Landing? Getting Shireen killed was his coup de grace. But this? A million or so people burning at once? He is now powerful beyond words, and raises an army of Fireborn to lay waste to Essos. In five days time, 2500 Red Women will ride out the Black Gate on horseback and spread across the continent. He has grown so powerful that even Corialinus is taking measures to defend himself from him.”
AND WHERE DOOS THAT LEAVE DUNNY?
“She is not the girl we loved. I hate to tell you this, and some part of me knows that you won’t believe it until you see it yourself. But she is a thrall. A slave to the Fire Sorcerer that calls himself the Lord of Light. Once he captures you, that’s it. Look at Melisandre. She was eight hundred years old, artificially extended by the Lord of Light through her ruby slave collar until such time that she could successfully spurn his mastery over her and take it off. Only her proximity to the magic of Corialinus let her do that long enough to die. She dreamed of death. She longed for an end to her suffering at the hands of the Sorcerer. And did you ever wonder what happened to that ruby slave collar when Melisandre dropped it?”
“Daenerys picked it up. She’s wearing it under her vestments right now. Why do you think every garment she wears has a high neck? To hide the fact that she’s a Red Woman now. The girl we knew is dead. Now her body is a puppet for the Lord of Light. Such a sad statement that the Breaker of Chains herself is now the most prized slave in the world.”
I CEHNT BELIEVE IT.
“I thought you wouldn’t. But it explains her recent and tumultuous turn toward what appears to be madness.”
I HEV TO SPEAK TO HER. TO TALK TO HER. TO MAKE HER SEE THE TRUTH.
“I knew you would, as did Corialinus. But I know what you’ll find, and I’m sorry to say: you are destined to kill her this very day, when you see that she is beyond hope.”
ILL NUVAH DO THA! MUH QUEEN! MUH QUEEN!
“Sadly, it is your destiny, Jon Snow.”
AH DON WAN ET! AH DON WAN ET!
“Nevertheless, you’ll see for yourself. We are headed down a dangerous path, you and I. But hope remains. After you kill her, Drogon will fly her body back to the Shadowlands where she will be resurrected by The Lord of Light himself and serve as his shieldmaiden in the coming Great War. Once he flies away, Grey Worm will barge into the Throne Room.”
AN KELL ME ON SIGHT. THERES NO CHUNCE HE LETS ME LIVE.
“Right! Except that Corialinus needs you alive. So he will warg into Grey Worm and have you imprisoned, instead. While you are there, I will likewise be imprisoned here. Hopefully with more wine. A great council will be summoned whereby all the lords of Westeros and some other people that everyone just kind of likes and a few unknown randos will meet to decide who the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms will be.”
AH DON WAN ET! AH NEVAH HAHVE!
“Don’t worry. It won’t be you. Grey Worm will lead me into the council, and I will deliver a speech to them. I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll say yet, some bullshit about nobility or some other hogwash, and convince them that the true leader of the Seven Kingdoms should be….”
“Ha! An excellent choice, of course. If we wanted happiness, fairness, a thriving economy, universal kindergarten, a vertical spike in literacy and opportunity for all. Sadly, no. Try again.”
“Good guess. No! In fact, Lady Sansa will almost certainly, knowing her, demand independence for the North, which will be granted. That will likely make both Yara Greyjoy and Prince Sleepytits of Dorne want their own independence, since, y’know, they’ve both been fiercely independent for as long as anyone can remember. Unfortunately, we need them to remain, so Corialinus will use his skills to suggest allegiance to them in that moment and hopefully they will not press the issue. He cannot be in two minds at once, so it will be a trick, but Sleepytits shouldn’t be a problem. It’s Yara Greyjoy who always challenges the dice roll. At any rate, Sansa will be released from the alliance and she will reign as Queen in the North.”
NO SHET? SUNSA? QUEEN IN THE FOOKIN NORTH?
“Yessiree. I shit you not. Officially crowned and everything. God, I should have tried harder to marry her in the crypt.”
WHU WAS THAT?
“Nothing. I was just saying that your sister, er….cousin, really, is quite a person.”
SHE IS THA
“Make another guess.”
AH SOOK AT THES GAME. JUS TELL MEH.
BRA? THE FOOKIN WEZZARD? WHO ARE YOO WERKING FOOR ANYWEH?
“Well, there’s the catch. I’m basically doing his bidding. When we choose him as the ruler, people don’t know that he doesn’t age. He’ll be in that body for a thousand years if we don’t kill him.”
SO WHY DON’T WE JUS WALK UP AN STAB HIM IN THE FACE? HE’S IN A FOOKIN CHAIR ALL THE TIME! DON TELL ME WE CANNA CATCH HEM!
“Soooo you’re gonna do it? You’ll stab your little brother?”
AH MEAN…ET DOESNT HAF TO BE MEH…
“See? You still see him as Bran. Bran is GONE. Dany is GONE. You have to grow up and play at the big boy table now. We’re fighting for something much bigger than ourselves. We can’t kill Corialinus by stabbing him. He’s in three places at once, always. That’s why some of the real smartypantses in the world thought that there were three Night Kings. We were close. THERE ARE THREE THREE EYED RAVENS. Each one is an eye. Bran is one eye. There are two more in the world. One is in the far east, in Asshai, west of Westeros. And one is in the far North, more North than any man has ever gone, on the Isle of Endless Day, guarded by three impossible barriers. The Night King can’t talk, but he made those shapes out of dead bodies to alert us to the patterns that govern each Three Eyed Raven. That’s how we’ll find them.”
HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MUCH?
“Samwell Gamgee Tarly. Descendent of the Great Librarians of Old. Librarians, even more than you or I, are utterly incorruptible.”
SAHM IS IN ON THES?
“He and I are working to try to make sense of the whole thing. Corialinus told me most of it that first day, and I have consulted with him a number of times via raven. But Sam and I are trying to piece together the rest. I went to him right away. He had stolen some very important books from the locked section of the citadel and they were loaded with information about this very subject. He and Gilly couldn’t make sense of it until I explained about Corialinus, and then it all started to fit together. We are not, I’m sad to say, the first people to come head to head with the Three Eyed Ravens. All the rest failed, which is why he or they are still around. But we have their notes. All of their deaths won’t be for naught.”
“Then, once the council makes Bran the Tired or Bran the Sparrow king…sorry I haven’t come up with a cool nickname yet. It has to be something that inspires pity or feels less threatening, you know?”
WHA ABOOT BRAHN THE COCK?
WHA ABOOT BRAHN THE SCUMBAG CHICKENSHIT ASSFACE SHITHEAD?
“I’ll handle this one. But suffice it to say that I will get Corialinus to be king and in turn, he will appoint me as Hand. I will be running the Seven Kingdoms going forward.”
HOW DO YOU KNOW HE’LL DO THA?
“He told me.”
AND YOU BELIEVE HEM? SOME FOOKIN DAHRK WEZZARD THAT KILLED MELLIONS OF PEOPLE?
“Because we’re family.”
SAY THA AGAIN?
“It so happens, I’ve recently found out, that the Lannisters are descendants of the Dark Wizards of the Time of Light.”
Jon stands up and backs away.
HOLY FOOK! WHY WOOD I TRUST ANYTHING YOU SAY? I MIGHT BE TALKING TO HEM RIGHT NOW!
“You’re not. There’s no one here but us. And I have one more bombshell to drop.”
PLEASE GOD NO. MAH BREAN WILL DIE. ETS TOO MOCH!
“I’m only half Lannister. My mother was Joanna Lannister, wife of Tywin.”
“And my father was Aerys Targaryen.”
THE MAD KENG?
“The very same.”
YER A TARGARYEN?
“Yes, it turns out. Half, on my father’s side. Like you.”
HOLY SHET! SO WHA DOOS THA MEAN? I’M YER DAD?
WAIT! YER MAH DUDDY?
“No, god. I’m your Uncle. And the eldest living male Targaryen.”
AH DON WANT ET! AH NEVAH HAHVE!
“Yes, I know. And I actually do want it, and always have, so it all works out in the end. You and I have been family all along. You believe that?”
WHA A FOOKED UP WORL. SO MANY BUSTARDS. MAH BRAIN HOLE IS THUMPIN. MAH STOMACH IS TURNIN. AH FEEL LIKE IM GONNA BLOW CHUNKS.
“The point is that I, too, have a purpose to serve as a link between Daenerys, my half sister, who will die today by your hand and be resurrected in the East, and become the shieldmaiden of the enemy, and Corialinus himself. Which I’m guessing is the only reason I’m still breathing.”
IM NO GONNA KELL DUNNY.
“So you say. And I believe you. Or rather, I believe your sincerity. But you will look at her and you will try to find the love again and you will see that it’s gone. You will see it’s been replaced by something else. And you will realize that this moment will be the very last chance anyone has to stop her, before she does the Lord of Light’s bidding. Before she burns Winterfell and The Mighty White Tree itself.”
“There is no conviction in your voice when you say that. It’s like you’re reciting lines in a child’s play. You know what she’s capable of now, and you know, better than any man alive that every day she remains breathing is a day your sisters are both in mortal danger.”
“What? She wouldn’t? She nearly burned Sansa with her eyes. You think she won’t finish the job with a dragon? Don’t be a fool. She will kill us both, possibly today, especially if she finds out my true lineage and that I, not you, have a better claim to the throne. And then she will find Arya and Sansa and kill them too.”
YOU GUT SMART AGAIN. I WUS USED TO YEH BEIN A BUMBLING DUMBASS. AH STELL DON’T KNOW WHO YE ARE OR WHY I’HD TRUST YEH.
“Why would I tell you all of this if I was your enemy?”
I HAVE NO IDEA. THIS IS ALL SO MUCH. ALL THESE DAMN WEZZARDS AND GODS-
“There are no real gods. I mean, you died. Did you see a god? Did you see…anything?”
“It turns out that gods are an amazingly effective way at getting a great number of people to do exactly what you want by either promising them damnation or eternal life, both of which come due only after they die. No, the Sorcerer in the Shadowlands is very much a man, now very powerful and and very intent on conquest.”
IT’S A LOT. IT’S A LOT. FOOKIN HELL IT’S A LOT.
“I know. It hit me hard, too. But we’re past the Game of Thrones. We’re playing on a much larger map now. I’m going to run things for Corialinus here and keep an eye on him. I notice that he cannot be in three places at once, and since we won here he’s spending more time in his other bodies. Apparently he has bigger fish to fry in the True North and in Asshai.”
TORMUND SAID I HAD THE TRUE NORTH IN MEH.
“I’m certain that’s not a coincidence.”
HOW DO YEH KNOW HE WONT KILL YEH? HOE DO YEH KNOW HE WONT KILL ALL OF US?
“Truthfully I don’t. If history is any indication, he certainly will. But everything with him is a dice roll. For example, he instructed me way back before we battled the Night King, that when the day came that I found Daenerys addressing her troops from the top of a great stair, I was to remove my Hand pin and fling it down the steps. He saw that moment and knew it was important. So I knew, no matter what, that I would be arrested or killed at that moment. With that knowledge, freeing my brother was a no brainer. When I asked Corialinus whether Jaime and Cersei would survive, he said there was about a fifty-fifty chance, based on “where they embraced.”
“I never mentioned it to Jaime because I couldn’t live with the knowledge that I might be the cause of him picking the wrong place. But when I found his body, I saw that had he been a few steps away, they would both be alive right now and on their way to Pentos? I wish I had known what to say. A way to warn him. But there are no certainties. Corialinus sees all the past, but only snippets of the future, not a complete picture. They were both Lannisters. They were both his family. Corialinus wanted them alive and has been helping Cersei behind the scenes for her whole life, which is how a base, amoral bully like her rose up to be the very first Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. But even he can’t account for every eventuality.”
GOOD. WHECH MEANS WE CAN STOP HEM.
“I think it’s possible. Though right now, he may prove a better ally than enemy until The Lord of Light is defeated. It may be that we spend some time in his…contingent. I don’t know. There are other greenseers out there. Howland Reed’s son was one, I’ve come to find. So perhaps we can recruit people who can give us an independent glimpse of the future and help us get ahead of Corialinus. I don’t know. But I know the Sorcerer has a dragon, the ultimate power in the world, and we do not.”
THATS GONNA BE A PROBLUM.
“Agreed. Corialinus certainly has a plan, and he needs all of the Starks, the heirs of his natural enemies, to accomplish it. Sam and I haven’t figured it out yet, but it concerns the three trees of power in the world, each one he’s directly connected to. If the Lord of Light manages to burn them all at the exact same time with Dragonfire, the game is over. The first you know: it’s the White Weirwood in the Godswood in Winterfell. The second is The Tree of the Sun on the Isle of Endless Day and the last is the Tree of Death in Asshai. Conversely, I know Corialinus needs a Paladin at each one, all at the same time. And then something new is born into the world.”
“Something that kills dragons.”
There is a silence in the room. Jon Snoo is worn out. He looks like he’s aged three years in the span of a few minutes. Despite how much Tyrion knows and how convincing the Imp is, Jon still has his doubts. He glares at Tyrion with scorn.
WHETS SOMETHING ABOOT MEH YEH COULD NEVER KNOW? SOMETHIN THE RAVEN WEZZARD TOLD YEH? SOMETHIN TO MEHKE ME BELEIVE THAT YER NOT JUST A FULL OF SHET LYING PRECK?
“On the first night you captured Ygritte, you lost your patrol and were forced to sleep under the stars. You spooned with her for warmth, she in front of you, and you got a huge boner from her rubbing her ass up against you.”
WHAT IN THE FOOCK? WHY WERE YEH TALKIN ABOOT THA WETH THE RAVEN?
“Because he knew you’d ask for proof. And no one alive in the world could possibly know that.”
Jon stands up, throwing his hands in the air. He turns to look at Tyrion, not sure whether to feel gratitude for being let in on the secret and possibly having a new uncle, or resenting him for taking advantage of his gullibility. He doesn’t know if he’s a friend or a foe. Jon shakes his head and walks out.
ILL TALK TO HER AND THEN WE’LL SEE. BUT KNOW THIS: I’LL NOT LET SOME SORCERER HALF A WORLD AWAY TAKE HER MIND FROM ME. I WON’T JEST LET HIM HAVE HER.
“Good luck. And Jon!”
Jon looks back at Tyrion one last time.
DONT BE SORRY YET. DESPITE WHAT YEH THINK THERE’S NOOTHIN WRETTEN IN STONE.
“If there isn’t, then the deaths of your sisters will be.”
Jon glares at Tyrion and bangs on the door to be let out. On the other side, an Unsullied known as Joaquin, formerly called ‘Beaver Shit,’ opens the door for him. He is secretly grateful to be able to move a little and have something to do other than stand there. As Jon passes him, Joaquin makes a note of Jon’s personal musk. It’s proud and violent, with undertones of oak and sagebrush, and only the most subtle hint of vanilla. Jon grabs Longclaw from another Unsullied, who does not make eye contact with him, and storms away.
Joaquin returns to his post, standing in the recess of a cold wall, outside the door of that small room where the former Hand of the Queen is being held. There are like nine other Unsullied with him, all bored, all standing at attention, eyes forward, to prevent the jailbreak that will never come because everyone in the city is dead. Joaquin allows Jon’s smell to linger and tries to commit it to memory, wondering if it’s the manliest thing he’s ever smelled. In the dark corridor, under his face spade, in the eerie silence of that beaten city, Joaquin allows himself the tiniest of smiles.
But we are elsewhere, pulling backward as Jon Snow, the former King of the North, stomps toward us. He is a man torn between his love and his duty. And he remembers the words of Maester Aemon about both. Could Tyrion be right? Has he lost Dunny?
He convinces himself more and more, as he walks, that Tyrion is lying. How did Tyrion become the Tyrion of old again? Hadn’t he been a damned fool for several years now? Everything he touched turned to shit and Jon was damned if he was going to be part of that. Treason everywhere, Jon thinks. It’s nauseating. This is why Ned hated the south. This is why any Northman worth a damn hates the south. The scheming. The whispers. The treason. Everywhere, some fucker with an agenda.
God, he missed Tormund. He missed Ghost. He hoped they were well.
Dunny will see his way of thinking, he told himself. She’ll show mercy. Tyrion is wrong.
As he approaches Maegor’s Holdfast from the outside, a huge pile of snow comes to life to reveal Drogon, laying in wait for any potential threat.
It was an inestimably beautiful shot, only surpassed by the one after it where we see the dragon crane out to smell Jon. I’m sure there’s an iconic reference here that I’m forgetting, but the image was striking. I remember being at an art festival in Beverly Hills and there was this bronze sculpture of a little boy standing in front of a bull. It was amazing. I wanted to buy it but I was a starving writer and it was like eight thousand dollars. I think Bill Clinton may have purchased it later that same day. But this image reminded me of that. Something inestimably powerful and the innocence of a boy. Shades of Toothless and Hiccup. In an season loudly derided for it’s abandonment of hard core fantasy tropes, this moment stuck out as something visually magical.
Somehow, Jon passes the sniff test. It speaks to the fact that Jon is 100% not going in there to harm Dunny. Drogon is a guard dog, and guard dogs can sense that shit. Drogon settles back in to his nap.
I rewatch it again and again. The moment when the snow breaks and falls in the beginning, before we know there’s a dragon in there? And then how the snow moves and puffs and slides to reveal the complex, winged shape of a dragon underneath? I think it’s the best subtle, non-action CGI I’ve ever seen in my life.
In the throne room, the once vaulted gothic ceiling now opens to the grey sky. Daenerys Targaryen has no one to crown her, but it doesn’t matter. She seems not to notice the destruction of the room itself. The titanic columns, with an eight foot stone diameter, broken like twigs. Once the most majestic room on the continent, it is now mostly rubble and snow. Daenerys doesn’t see it. The Iron Throne is hers. To the victor go the spoils. She approaches it with trepidation, a fever in her eyes. Deliberate step after deliberate step, up the middle of the room, like a bride on her wedding day. Onward to the finish. She had this very vision while in the House of the Undying. Except when she went to touch the Iron Throne, she had pulled back for some reason.
With that knowledge, she approaches the seat of power she has coveted for as long as she can remember. The seat her brother coveted when he sold her as a broodmare. The seat that got him killed. How many man had died in pursuit of the the throne which she now approached? How many unlucky, lesser fools had dreamed to be her in this moment?
She reaches out a hand to touch it. Will something cause her to pull back, like in her dream?
Her hand settles on the pommel of a long silent blade. One of the thousand that Aegon wrung from the hands of his defeated enemies. She had heard the story as a thing to lull her to sleep. Aegon and the thousand swords. A throne that would be impossibly big, and yet here she was, touching it, at long last. A sense of relief washes over her as she drinks the throne in with her eyes. It is hers. It is finally hers.
Behind her, someone approaches. A manbunned potato in a black leather +4 dress of uncertainty.
Daenerys turns to see him and smiles at his approach. Even in this fugue state of victory, she seems happy for the company.
She does not sit in the Iron Throne. There is no need. She will have plenty of time for that.
“When I was a girl,” she says,turning brightly, “my brother told me it was made of a thousand swords from Aegon’s fallen enemies! What do a thousand swords look like in the mind of a little girl who can’t count to twenty?”
She smiles at the thought. At the thought of her being a little girl, innocent, not having the vaguest idea what that might look like. She’s in a great mood. Her smile is radiant.
“I imagined a mile of swords too high to climb. So many fallen enemies you could only see the soles of Aegon’s feet.” She beams at Jon, walking to him, carrying her story over to him in anticipation of his shared joy.
But a potato is a potato is a potato and segues are not a thing that tubers are grown to know.
I SAW THUM EXECUTING LANNISTER PRISONURZ IN THU STREET.
Wait, ‘street’? They have that word? Doesn’t that feel like a car-based word? Street? Wouldn’t it be road or way?
ALL STREETS LEAD TO ROME!
Have we located a proverbial starbucks cup in the dialogue? Maybe not. No matter. The statement is made, and the potato is clear: he is not here for your jaunty remembrances of innocent girls in bygone days. He wants to know why the tenets of the Geneva Convention are being violated in plain sight.
Dany’s smile fades.
THEY SAID THEY WERE AHKTING UN YUR ORDUHS!
“It was necessary.”
NECESSARY? IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO DRINK MY OWN URINE? NO, BUT IT’S STERILE AND I LIKE THE TASTE.
(R.I.P. Patches O’Houlihan)
NESSUSERY? Jon asks, his blood rising. HAHV YOO BEEN DOON THERE? HAHV YOO SEEN?
Now he yells at her.
CHILDRUHN! LITTLE CHILDRUHN BUHRNED!
She is sooooo not cool with being yelled at. But she’s learned to control her dracarys reaction, and she knows that this simple, uncomplicated potato that she adores is a lovable knucklehead. She looks at him, slowing down her rate of speech so that any garden vegetable might understand it.
“I tried to make peace with Cersei. She used their innocence as a weapon against me. She thought it would cripple me.”
OKAY THEN! Thinks Jon. That’s pretty much his whole pitch about her burning the city. To yell CHILDRUN BUHRNED, and then immediately accept her explanation. It probably been a few weeks since you’ve seen this scene and you may remember Jon’s heated protest, but really that’s all he says. And she shrugs and he moves on.
She steps closer to him, like you would a barking dog that you know how to mollify.
“He conspired behind my back with my enemies.” She says. “How have you treated people who’ve done the same to you? Even when it broke your heart?”
I FOOKIN HANGED THEM! Jon thinks. SHIT! He’s running out of things to yell. She has very good answers. So far this is the modern personification of the battle between Wesley and Fezzik. We might almost, if we squint, hear Jon say “you’re quick!” And hear Daenerys reply “And a good thing, too!”
What a shit day, thinks Jon. This is not his jam at all.
Playing football? That’s his jam.
Finding a really good, broken-in catchers mitt at a second hand shop? That’s his jam.
A hastily made, messy as fuck thanksgiving sandwich with a slab of turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and some cranberry sauce mashed between two slices of bread and scarfed down at three am after a long night of drinking with your buddies? THAT’s his jam.
But this? All this talking? It’s for the birds. He can’t remember which side he’s even on anymore. For a while he felt like a good guy, and then it was like he was leading the bad guys. He’s yelling things that sound wrong, but Dunny is answering calmly and making them sound…okay.
Who is right anymore? He can’t tell. He just knows that everyone is spinning him in all directions. Tyrion is filling his head with lies. Dunny is justifying the burning of children. No one seems right in this. They all are dirty. They all feel unclean. Him, most of all.
He feels lost.
But perhaps, she is not lost. Not yet. Perhaps if she is able to forgive Tyrion, it will disprove his thesis. Perhaps if he can make it all right, it might just be…alright.
FUHGIVE HIM he says. It’s almost a whisper. His head is bowed, and he’s fighting back tears.
Dunny looks surprised by the suggestion.
YOO CAHN! He contends, now approaching her, his brow up, pleading. YOU KEN FURGIVE ALL OF THUM! MAHKE THUM SEE THEY MADE UH MISTAHKE! MAHKE THEM UNDERSTAND.
His head is cocked, urging, entreating, eyes watery, face flushed. Anyone saying Kit can’t bring it can go jump in the nearest river and stay there.
She seems to consider it for a moment, but perhaps she’s just trying to figure out a way to explain it to him.
PLEASE DUNNY he begs. Don’t be gone. Don’t let Tyrion be right.
She almost shrugs. “We can’t hide behind small mercies. The world we need won’t be build by men loyal to the world we have.”
THUH WORLD WE NEED IS A WORLD OF MERCEH. IT HAHS TO BEH!
“And it will be!” She declares, coming right into his fart aura, and putting her hand on his chest. Whomever gave her the French manicure she’s sporting really knows their shit. Now she smiles, not reflecting his worry or despair, but like a bird of prey, seeing the land far below with a predatory clarity other animals never have. “It’s not easy to see something that’s never been before. A good world.”
HOW DO YUH KNOW? He asks. But he’s begging her for answers. Make him see. Make him understand. Her bright, undeterred countenance is worrying him. She is not reacting in a human way. She is not mirroring his strife. She is a on a hill a thousand miles away, seeing things he doesn’t see. Her face is shining. The face of an angel. Not the face that just burned a million people. HOW DO YUH KNOW ET’LL BE GOOD?
“Because I know what is good.” She says.
A cold chill passes through him.
“And so do you.”
“You do. You do, you’ve always known.”
And now Jon reaches back in his mind, to all of the people he’s known who were sure they were right. His father. Jeor Mormont. Mance Rayder. Stannis Baratheon. How comforting the inimitable knowledge of your own rightness was, and how fleeting as the world mocks your folly. How simple the equation is until you remember that the world is not yours. There are other people out there, and they think differently.
WHA ABOOT EVERYONE ELSE? He whispers. ALL TH’OTHER PEOPLE WHO THENK THEH KNOO WHAHTS GOOOD?
“They don’t get to choose.”
And that’s it.
Now Jon sees that Tyrion was right. Daenerys is bright faced and sure, tinged with a confidence and a sunny eyed view of the situation that reminds Jon of Melisandre, the Red Woman.
He reaches down into the depths of his being, to that place where he remembers that he, and sometimes he alone, is the shield that guards the realm of men. He reaches to a place where duty and love come face to face with each other on the field of battle, and only one may remain. This may very well kill him, thinks Deathwish ‘Potato’ Jones, but he’s been trying to get out of this misery for a long time. No matter what he does, no matter how good or righteous he tries to be, he always seems to end up as the one sad bastard that has to protect mankind. He longs for death, now more than ever.
In a moment, he thinks, we will both be gone.
He suffers about having to go through the door of duty. He loves Daenerys. He has scarcely met her equal in his lifetime, but this life of hers, in servitude to either a universal purge or a foreign puppetmaster, cannot go further. Those eyes, glassy and serene in the face of such suffering. How would those eyes regard his sisters after he was gone? How would they regard anyone who seemed to stand in her way?
He slumps. Utterly defeated.
If Tyrion is right, maybe this isn’t the end for her. He knows how it went for him. He knows what a wake-up call death was for him. He fought with Ser Beric Dondarrion, who was said to have been brought back more than a dozen times and seemed no worse for the wear. Perhaps, he thinks, grasping for straws, this will revitalize her and if, as Tyrion says, she wakes up in the East, and is able to see the puppet strings on her arms, perhaps she will revolt. Perhaps she will question her motivations and her deeds. Perhaps she will work to get back to Westeros…
…and kill him.
It all hits him with a rush of realization. He is just another version of her. A true believer who thinks he knows what’s right. He is no different than the true believer by the name of Ser Alliser Thorne who stuck a knife into him. A man who knew so profoundly that what he saw was against the very nature of things — wildlings marching through Castle Black — that he was duty bound to correct the very profanity of it. Now he is Alliser Thorne. Not wildlings, but the charred bodies of children. It is against the natural order of things.
“I had a choice, Lord Commander: betray you or betray the Night’s Watch. You brought an army of wildlings into our lands. An army of murderers and raiders. If I had to do it all over knowing where I’d end up, I pray I’d make the right choice again…I fought, I lost. Now I rest. But you, Lord Snow, you’ll be fighting their battles forever.”
Gods, how right Ser Alliser was, prick that he was. How tired Jon is. How many battles has he had to fight in their name? How daunting is this final battle, standing before him?
I am Ser Alliser Thorne, Jon thinks, and then with a wave of nausea he realizes: I am Olly.
Who will find him here, with her blood on his hands? Drogon or Grey Worm? Who will be the one to close the final chapter of his life, as he will close the final chapter of hers? It doesn’t matter. He has no fight left in him. He loves her, but she cannot be allowed to kill his sisters. She cannot fly north and burn the White Tree. She cannot be allowed to burn one more city.
I want to rest, he thinks. I want to rest.
“Be with me.” She says, pulling his hand to her face. “Build the new world with me. This is our reason. It has been from the beginning since you were a little boy with a bastard’s name and I was a little girl who couldn’t count to twenty. We do it together.”
They are close. So close, like in the old days, bodies pressed together. Souls intertwined. She whispers to him, pleading.
“We break the wheel. Together.”
No. He knows now more than ever. No. He will not burn the world. He will not join her on this mission of destruction.
“You are my queen.” He says. “Now, and always.”
And she kisses him deeply, unaware that his right hand, his sword hand, has retreated from her face to the grip of the dagger on his hip. He kisses her one last time before the last words of Stannis Baratheon seem to echo in eternity around him.
“Go on. Do your duty.”
With the tiniest sound, his dagger pierces the soft flesh of her abdomen and goes directly into her heart. There is barely any time for her to react. She looks down, the way you might had you stepped in something unexpected, to see the hilt of his weapon protruding from her midsection. With no more than a look of apology, he holds her as she falls backward.
And with that, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Realm, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains, The Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Queen of Meereen and Mother of Dragons is gone.
Somewhere, one hopes, Viserion and Rhaegal wait to welcome her.
But here in the broken carapace of the Red Keep, she lolls back as two perfect lines of blood escape her nose and mouth as she drifts off into oblivion.
For a minute, Jon is alone with her body as the snow flutters down around him. It is quiet as his tears fall, one of them dotting her alabaster cheek — or is it the snow, falling on the two of them alone in the world? Some music from Ramin Djawadi starts to sing in and then we hear the shriek of a dragon.
So, it’s to be Drogon then, Jon thinks. Good. It’ll be over quickly. He doesn’t care what Tyrion said about him being impervious to dragon fire. He just wants this to be over. It’s too much. He just wants to rest. Dunny is gone, and for what? He never even got to tell her about Maester Aemon. He never once was able to say “I know what a good, decent, kind Targaryen looks like because I knew one.” She is gone, and with her, a perverse contempt for short people exhibited via dialogue choices from the showrunners themselves.
Jon holds Daenerys’ limp body as the dragon alights and climbs into the room from the south side. Within seconds, Drogon is behind Jon, his hackles up. Jon sets his queen’s body down on the ground gently and turns to face Drogon, who growls menacingly at him.
Jon backs away.
Now Drogon approaches the supine body of the Mother of Dragons, which lays as still as the rocks of the keep. He smells the blood and tries to gently nudge her to wake her up.
When he realizes that she’s gone, every facet of his face and body seems to flare in rage. He glares at Jon and turns his head skyward, screaling at the heavens and puffing out his wings to their full span.
Jon stands there. Waiting.
This is it.
Now Drogon turns back to him, a fire alighting in his throat. Jon knows exactly what this means. He remembers what happened to Varys when Daenerys casually Dracarysed him. Now she is no longer able to give the command, but Drogon knows what went down here.
Jon stands, facing the dragon. At first he winces, seeing the fire light in the dragon’s throat, and then he changes his demeanor and looks straight ahead, resigned to his fate, the same way Alliser Thorne was. He fought. He lost.
Drogon opens his mouth, fire building, and then turns from Jon and throws a splashy, cavalier fount of heat toward the iron throne. It does more damage to the wall behind the throne than the throne itself. It’s the way one might describe ugly crying if it were dragonfire. But now Drogon knows his own mind. He reaches down deep and blows a volcanic, supercharged stream of dragonfire at the Iron Throne itself.
The symbol of all that’s wrong in the world.
I like a smart dragon. Always have, always will. I prefer my dragons to talk, but silent, thinking dragons are okay, too. It may be because Drogon knows that that stupid chair ultimately killed his mom. It may be that he knows Jon is a Targaryen and dragons don’t kill Targs, but he still wanted to hit something. It may be that Drogon understood Jon’s reasons. Even if he hated the outcome.
But my favorite version of this scene is that Drogon spares Jon because he knows it’s not all Jon’s fault. Drogon knows that he, too, had a hand in the demise of the Mother of Dragons.
But he was still a teenager. He never fully matured until she was gone.
Dragons can live a lot longer than humans, and while he was just flying all over the place and dracarysing anything that needed to be dracarysed, he wasn’t focused on anything but his own enjoyment.
He and Mother had always had a level of codependent understanding that some may have called dangerous. She used him as her unstoppable weapon and he used her as the beautiful ribbon in his hair. She never told him to fly or land or turn right or left, he just knew. He could sense her wishes. They were connected, mentally, on that level.
For years now, he’d been sensing the pull of another on Daenerys. For years he assumed that she would just choose the right path. Children are notoriously blind where their mother’s shortfalls are concerned. Drogon thinks back to that moment where he was watching Jon snog with the Mother of Dragons and it looked like he was staring at Dakingindanorf in warning, but he was just having trouble pulling his eyes away.
For so long, she was emotionally alone. Yes, there was that raider in Meereen, the handsome one, but she had never wanted to be part of something else before. Of someone else. Until she met The King in the North.
Drogon would watch him from on high. Jon Snow was quiet and thoughtful. He would stand on the edge of a cliff and look over the ocean for hours. Human movement appears so skittish and insect-like to dragons. Their bodily mechanics are so herky-jerky and seem more like spasms than choices. But a man who can stand, lost in thought for hours? That somehow appealed to Drogon.
And he had the blood. There’s a right blood and a wrong blood and any dragon can smell the difference. Jon Snow had the blood of a dragonrider.
Drogon thought about those moments in the sky — joy rides, really. The Queen on his back and Jon on Rhaegs. Drogon had never been happier. He knew that happy was not the word people would typically associate with him in all his alpha dog power, but that’s what he felt in those moments. Happy.
But even then, he remembered the pull of the sorcerer’s voice on his Mother. It was so soft in the beginning. More like a whisper. Something that you could barely notice if there was a breeze. But it had grown louder without either of them feeling any alarm, to the point where they barely noticed it there at all.
Watching her with Jon, Drogon hoped for her salvation, even while not fully realizing it.
This, Drogon was thinking, this might be enough to break the Sorcerer’s grip on her. This joy, this passion, might set her back on the right path and away from death. When her heart soared, it seemed like it drowned out the whispers of the Lord of Light. When she was happy, the love she felt obliterated any other sound in her mind. And in those moments, while she was content and safe, Drogon felt more peace and tranquility than he had ever known. His mind, like hers, was at rest.
And then something changed while they were in the North. Something right before the battle with the dead. Jon and the Queen were somehow…different. He could feel it. They still rode together in the sky, but that pleasure was somehow absent. She still longed for him, but he felt distant to her, somehow.
And the Sorcerer’s voice came back with a vengeance.
It was so jarring after that period of wonder and love that it threw Drogon off completely. So much so that he heard another voice in his head. This one completely independent of Mother, speaking directly to him. This one tried to make him stay on the ground during the battle. A man’s voice, not as silky as the sorcerer, but ancient and more deadly. It tried to kill him by letting wights board him. It shut down his instincts for a key minute and almost cost him his life. Only by fighting the voice with every ounce of his being was he able to get a running start and throw off the zombies.
Unfortunately, the Queen came unsaddled as well, and he was a thousand feet in the air before he even realized it.
She was so afraid.
It was foggy and he couldn’t find her.
She was calling out to him and the sorcerer was calling out to him through her but he was confused and couldn’t see where she was on the field of battle. It was so dark.
For a second, the ancient voice returned, trying to get him to land near some white walkers, but Drogon kept searching for Mother and he never heard the voice again.
The Mother of Dragons managed to survive, despite his abandonment, but she lost her closest friend because of it.
Drogon could barely look at her he was so ashamed. He had tried to find her. He had scoured the battlefield but he was tired and wounded in fifty places and confused and kept landing in the wrong areas. Mother was wracked with more sorrow than ever before. Not only was there no Jon and no romance, but her friend was dead — a man who had loved her with all his heart, and that just made the sorcerer’s whispers the only thing either of them heard.
Dragons have no more use for death than any other creature in the natural world, and the bloodlust that humans feel can be both shocking and appalling to them. This is when Drogon really began to worry about Mother’s mental defenses. How do you fortify your mind? He started feeling anxious every day that someone would hurt Mother as she spun downward into darkness.
It got much worse after the North.
On their way south to Dragonstone, Drogon and Rhaegs were doing their best to cheer up Mother. She was in a dark place, but the air seemed to be helping. They were diving and climbing and Rhaegs was rolling over in mid air which caused Mother to laugh.
They were so busy goofing off, so aware of the stress on Mother’s mind, that they never even thought to scout ahead.
Drogon never even saw the first bolt.
He just heard a terrible sound come out of his brother and felt his heart sink. It was the same sound that Viserion made when he was killed. Mother heard it and gasped. Drogon felt a wave of fear and desperation come over them both.
Drogon ducked his head slightly, half to protect Mother and half to try to figure out what was happening.
Below, a fleet was appearing around the side of Dragonstone Isle. Drogon was still not right in the head from the fear and worry for Rhaegs.
The next bolt was coming right at him. It would knock him and Mother out of the sky. Before Drogon could even track the massive dart’s trajectory, Rhaegs, with a harpoon in his chest, positioned himself between them and took the second harpoon in his wing.
They weren’t aiming for Rhaegal.
They were aiming for him.
The were trying to knock him and Mother out of the sky, but Rhaegal was shielding them both from harm.
Rhaegal was always more nimble. He was always selfless. And he could sense when Drogon wasn’t on his A game.
As Drogon tried to clear his head, the third harpoon came up at them impossibly fast. It was a perfect shot and would have hit him in the chest had Rhaegal not lunged stretching out as long as he could to absorb the shot with his own neck.
Rhaegal had saved their lives.
And then he fell.
It’s impossible to explain the horror of that fall. When Viserion had died it had felt so…fast. One minute he was up, and after one shot he skidded across the ice and was lost. It happened with such certainty and irrevocable violence that he was gone almost before any of them knew it.
Rhaegal seemed to fall forever.
When his brother hit the water, something changed inside Drogon for good. It was like he instantly grew up. All the joy was sucked out of his heart. He just wanted to kill. He just wanted revenge against the men who had stolen his brother.
Rhaegal was the best of them all. He was always the peacemaker between brothers. Always last to eat. Always quick with a joke. Always happy to play second fiddle to Drogon’s boyish, immature need to be the “big shot”. When Rhaegal hit that water, everything changed. Part of him had the instinct to just dive into the water himself and end it all and the rest of him wanted to burn the world.
Good! Came the Sorcerer’s coo inside Mother’s head.
BURN THEM! BURN THE WHOLE FLEET!
It was too much to lose two brothers. It was torture.
As bad as he was, Mother was far worse. Her mind was trying to find a place to survive and the Lord of Light seemed to use that desperation as a means to entrench himself in her consciousness. He wanted her to attack.
She set Drogon to the task and he was only too happy to oblige.
Setting his shoulders, he started to hone in on the flagship. The ballistae that had killed Rhaegal were reloaded and cocked, but now something new was happening inside Drogon. Time slowed down. And he knew, with absolute certainty, that the harpoons would never hit him. The came at him like butterflies. Like daffodil seedlings in the wind. His instincts were so heightened when Rhaegal died that it was like he had hit an entirely different tier of awareness.
From that point forward, the bolts they fired at him, both here and later during the battle of King’s Landing, were a joke.
They would never get him. Never.
They were mid-dive. He could see the pirate captain below, trained on him. Drogon felt the fire in his very belly this time, so malignant and feverish was his hatred for this man.
But then, Mother pulled him away.
He sensed something inside of her. Resistance, maybe, to the Sorcerer who was telling her to attack. Maybe it was a desperate, clinging worry for his safety? Her last child. She seemed to try to hide it from him, but that was not something easily done between rider and dragon.
She turned him away from the fleet and out of ballista range, and they left Rhaegal dead in the black depths of the sea.
That was when Mother started to change.
The loss of Rhaegal had almost killed them both. Drogon wailed for days. Flying alone in a sky that he used to share with his brothers. He was such an arrogant fool. How he had taken them both for granted? How his bravado had always pushed them down so he could be the king of the dragons. It was he who claimed Mother as his rider. Rhaegal would have been a much better dragon for her. His temperance might have balanced her where Drogon’s power and hubris only further emboldened her.
Drogon would soar through the clouds and spray pathetic, deafening geysers of dragonfire into them. Alone and impotent like the fool he was. He would never fly with another dragon again. The sorrow of it almost broke him.
If he was bad, Mother was worse.
It was like watching someone float in a river with a waterfall approaching. She was imbalanced. He felt her thoughts careen around madly in her mind. Feelings of regret and sadness immediately followed by rage and vengeance. And the Lord of Light’s voice was the only stable thing for both of them. A voice always, and now, somehow, a set of eyes. Black as coal at midnight, looking at them from the east. Walking them down a path. They both gave over to the voice, and the eyes that came with it. The voice was wise and experienced where they were foolish and naïve. The voice promised to keep them safe. The voice told them that all they had to do was listen and he would give them everything they ever wanted.
And he told them that what they both wanted was to burn.
Something inside Drogon was repelled by the voice, but Mother seemed to take comfort in being understood. She had experienced so much loss in such a short period of time, and had nothing to replace the sadness with and no time to process it.
But to Drogon, it felt like she was marching toward her own death. Of course he had no way to tell her. He wanted to spirit her far away, to take her out of range of the terrible voice. But he could not. She was focused more and more on her goal.
Taking the Iron Throne.
A massive, imposing golden throne that Drogon was growing to hate. He knew it so well from years of her dreams. It was almost as tall as him, with thirty five stairs to the top of it, all made of swords and shining shields and the bones of Aegon’s fallen enemies, and encrusted top to bottom in a thick shell of gold and jewels. How often he had seen it in her mind, how present it always seemed to be in her thoughts.
She would fall asleep every night dreaming of it. Knowing that when she had it, everything would be okay.
Drogon’s anxiety reached an all time high when she burned her own advisor, Varys, so casually, without a second thought. He heard the echo of the emptiness in her heart. In the old days, she had struggled with every death. But this one was like taking a drink of water. It scared him.
But that’s not the only thing he heard. For the first time ever, while Varys was burning, Drogon swore he heard laughter. He heard a man’s voice in the fire itself, saying “I told you the rest of your body would join your parts! I told you that first night in the fire!”
It was unsettling. A different voice than the Lord of Light. More chaotic and nihilistic and less stable and enduring. Who was it? It felt like it came from the South.
He began to stay closer to Mother. He stopped flying off for time away to himself and took to guarding her more and more. He slept at the foot of her room or on a tower above it. He woke with a start every morning, hurriedly connecting with her mind to see if she was okay.
He was sure every day would be her last. That he would wake to find her gone. He could feel her enemies closing in on her, and the Sorcerer was whispering the very same message over and over. The walls were closing in on her.
They are coming.
They are coming.
Trust no one!
BURN THEM ALL!
On some days, he hated himself for almost willing it to happen. He had imagined her death so many times that when he finally saw it, it was self-hatred and his own impotence that flared up.
He knew for certain that the hellfire run on King’s Landing would kill her.
He knew before they ever burned a single innocent person.
He felt her mind teeter and weaken when she had seen her friend beheaded. Drogon was right there and he knew. He felt it. And inside of her, he felt the Lord of Light flex and push at her consciousness. She was primed to fail.
On the bailey that day of the battle, looking down as her armies routed the Lannister forces of King’s Landing, he could feel her vacillating between mercy and vengeance, between fire and ice, between peace and war. He could sense her internal struggle.
So it was with his first defiance ever that he refused to alight off of that bailey when she asked for it.
FLY! He felt her command. FLY!
But he knew what that meant. He screaled. No. Don’t do this.
FLY! She commanded, pushing her will into his. FLY YOU FILTHY THING he felt the spite of the Lord of Light behind her voice. He felt hundreds of years of malice in her mind, eating her from the inside. He would not help her down this path. He would not give her over, willingly, to the power in the east.
FLY! She urged, like a person strapped to a rack, being pulled apart. FLY she commanded again, shuddering with the effort of it. FLY FLY FLY!
Drogon hesitated again. He threw his head back and screaled again. This was not how it was supposed to happen. The bells had rung. The battle was over. That tantalizing throne that he had seen in her mind a thousand times was already hers.
But the throne wasn’t the only thing he saw in there anymore. He saw fire and shadow. He saw the husks of burned out buildings. He saw a long procession of women in Red, hooded cloaks, stretching two by two on horseback as far as the eye could see. He saw bodies burning and people running for their lives. But most of all he saw black eyes looking back at him from inside the mind of the Mother of Dragons.
And he felt her fear.
FLY NOW! The eyes commanded her. FLY OR I’LL PULL YOUR MIND APART.
And then he heard it, her voice, small and distant, smaller than he had ever heard it before.
FLY, Drogon! Please…
What could he do? She was dying, right there on his back. Her mind was being stretched past it’s breaking point. He could feel her body convulsing atop his.
And so he screaled one more time in rage and helplessness and took to the sky. He immediately felt her legs loosen, like someone released from a noose. He felt her breathing in long, gasping breaths.
TO THE RED KEEP her mind directed him.
NO! Came the demand from the eyes. FIRST WE BURN IT.
Drogon turned and glided, low and slow, over a street where terrified people were running for their lives. He could scarcely believe what he was about to do in her name.
Dracarys she commanded. Small and terrified. A child locked in a box. No longer the Queen of anything. Lost, scared, manipulated. She was like a person looking into a great abyss. No longer connected to herself. Dracarys. It came out like a leaf falling from a tree. A broken soul. A prisoner in her own mind. A whisper in a gale.
It was the last time he heard her voice.
Once the burning started, all he felt were the eyes. All he felt was the pressing of that evil, seductive voice telling him to burn and burn and burn in her name and he felt her silent agreement behind everything. The more he burned, the stronger the eyes pressed into his own mind.
And the farther away The Mother of Dragons went.
How did he let it get this far? How did it come to this? What else could he have done differently? Should he have never burned anyone? What good is a dragon without dragonfire? Rhaegal, more than anyone, seemed worried about him. About his alpha posturing. About always taking the lead any time destruction was called for.
But he was a dragon, the highest species on the food chain. Dragons do what they want, take what they want, destroy what they want.
Destruction is what dragons specialize in.
To the bitter, tragic end.
It had broken her. When Drogon heard her speak to her armies after the victory, after burning every man woman and child they could find, it was not the same person. She spoke like a woman possessed. Certain in every way that more destruction was the only answer.
Drogon couldn’t feel her in his mind in the same way.
But still, he sensed that she was somewhere in there, so he always stayed nearby. Guarding this shell of what used to be the Mother of Dragons. Guarding this imposter who had his Mother buried somewhere deep inside. He curled up below the Holdfast in a ball and sighed. What was there to do? What could a dragon do? The voice was gone. There was just an eerie silence and the black eyes seemed to watch his every move.
He stayed low, huddled, and let the snow pile up on him, trying to figure out how to free his Mother.
He had dozed off for a while when he heard the sound of footfalls on the flagstones. Shaking off the snow, he awoke with a growl. But he was reassured to find that it was the dragonrider, Jon Snow. He seemed sad. Burdened. So much less that the noble king he had been when they met. It pained Drogon to remember Jon Snow smiling atop Rhaegal.
Poor Jon Snow.
He wanted to warn Jon Snow that it was no use to approach The Mother. She was gone. He worried for Jon Snow. What would he be tricked into doing by the puppet in the Throne Room? What miseries would they all endure at the hands of the imposter who had stolen the Queen?
It was no use. Dragons cannot meddle in the affairs of men, and Drogon felt the black eyes upon him still.
He let Jon Snow pass with a thought of silent warning, and curled back up. Before long, he was asleep again.
He awoke with a start.
Something was gravely wrong.
A voice was yelling to him. The voice. The voice of the sorcerer that had been silent since they made the hellfire run. It was panicked, yelling directly to him. The black eyes were gone.
I CAN BRING HER BACK!
I CAN BRING HER BACK!
And then the voice faded and for a brief moment, only a second or two, it was just him alone with The Mother again. The sorcerer was gone. The Mother was fading, but her presence was fresh and clear as a bell. He felt ten years younger as her voice rang through his mind.
Drogon. Bring me to him. I know how to defeat him. I know how to defeat him.
And then she was gone.
The shock hit Drogon like a hammer. He threw his head to the sky and screaled in pain. His mind was empty. He was alone in his own head for the very first time and it was terrifying.
He ran and took to the air, flapping furiously and landing on the edge of the holdfast. Step by step he pulled himself up, into the broken room where Jon Snow held her body.
She wasn’t moving.
How long had he dreaded this moment? How much of it was his own fault for propping her up and flexing his power? How much of this was his doing for mindlessly destroying anything in their path? Jon Snow laid her body down tenderly and backed away.
So, it was Jon Snow who had seen the truth about her. It was Jon Snow who realized that the Mother was gone and had chosen to rob the Lord of Light of his prize.
Drogon nudged her. She was gone. Well and truly gone.
Now he felt something pass through him again, a surge like the one he had felt when Viserion had died and then when Rhaegal hit the water. Something that made him advance. He stood up, flapped his mighty wings and screaled as the new power coursed through him.
And when he did, he saw the Iron Throne.
The shitty little Iron Throne.
Was that really it? Was it this dirty, hammered beast? Where was the gilded throne of her dreams? Where were the thirty five steps and the shields and the bones? Where were the jewels?
It was just this stupid metal chair. Inelegant. Coarse. Sad.
Fuck that throne, Drogon thought. Fuck it eternally.
Before he even realized what he was doing fire was blasting toward the stupid, artless chair. He only managed to singe part of it before he reared back and blew a magma drill of napalm at the thing. In seconds he had melted the cheap, low quality metal down to its elemental form in a puddle on the pedestal.
All this for that? For that little piece of shit?
It enraged him.
What a waste.
What a terrible, tragic waste.
But now he was leveled up. Time slowed again and he realized that he had a new ability, to hear the thoughts of others as clearly as if they were his own. Jon Snow was thinking that Drogon was going to kill him and that he was ready.
No, Jon Snow, Drogon thought. Not by me. Not today.
His goal became amazingly clear as Jon Snow stood, waiting for death. Welcoming it.
He had heard the Mother. He had heard her last words.
Drogon. Bring me to him. I know how to defeat him.
I know how to defeat him.
His mind was utterly serene. The moment he had long dreaded had come and gone. The Mother was dead. But in dying, she had opened up a world of possibility for her renewal. He just had to get her to him.
As gently as possible, he scooped her up and took to the sky, up up and up, as close to the mesosphere as he could get, so the cold would preserve her body. In that rarified, icy air, he flew as fast as he could, due east, to the Lord of Light.
Like the Sun itself, Daenerys Stormborn has set in the west, but will rise again in the east. Stronger, wiser, and ready to begin the fight of her life with her dragon at her side.
He just has to get her there.
Drogon flies as hard as his wings can take him, and if dragons can smile, you’d see a curl in the corner of his mouth.
There is hope.
He can feel it.
There is hope.
And because there isn’t anywhere near enough material at the intersection between sentient dragonkind and British new wave electronica, let’s imagine that Drogon flies away to Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’.
Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can’t you understand
Oh my little girl
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Jon watches. Still alive. Still not at rest.
The screen fades to black as Drogon vanishes into the distance.
—————-> CONTINUE TO PART THREE <————————-
Image sources (in order of posting): HBO, Lord Castleton